On June 4th, animal rights activists in 22 cities around the world took to the streets to participate in the 7th annual National Animal Rights Day (NARD).
Animal rights activists in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia participated in 2017 National Animal Rights Day
According to the organizer, the non-profit organization Our Planet. Theirs Too., NARD “gives a voice to all animals” and will continue to do so “until all animals are free from enslavement and their rights are established and protected by law.”
TheirTurn documented the ceremony in New York City, which attracted hundreds of participants and onlookers.
NARD events consist of a memorial ceremony for the billions of animals killed each year by humans; the reading and signing of a Declaration of Animal Rights; and a rally with speakers covering topics from animal rights advocacy to making the switch to a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Participants in NARD’s NYC used deceased animals during the memorial service
It was a sight that stopped hurried New Yorkers in their tracks — hundreds of people, many cradling the bodies of dead animals, staging a memorial service for the billions animals who are killed each year by humans.
National Animal Rights Day ceremony in NYC (Photo: Gunars Elmuts)
Established by “Our Planet. Theirs Too.” in 2011, The National Animal Rights Day (NARD), which is observed in cities in the U.S. and Canada, “gives a voice to all animals and raises awareness for their rights, until all animals are free from enslavement and their rights are established and protected by law.”
Following is a short video of the NARD memorial ceremony in NYC:
Two of the NYC organizers, Michael Dolling and Alfre Amin, traveled on multiple occasions from NYC to live animal auctions in Pennsylvania where they collected the bodies of dead animals who had been thrown into dumpsters.
NARD NYC organizers retrieved animal bodies at live animal auctions in New Holland, PA (photo: Michael Dolling)
According to Dolling, “We hold the bodies of animals because it is a powerful way to expose the truth. These animals are ghosts in the machine of animal agriculture, hidden away from the world. I found many of these animals thrown away like trash in dead piles and in dumpsters, and I believe that they deserved more then that. We clean them, hold them, love them, wrap them up and place flowers on top of them in this very respectful and beautiful ceremony. They were never shown respect in life, so it is our obligation to give them that love and respect after death. In this ceremony, they represent the billions of animals slaughtered each year who suffer and die due to human greed.”
After the ceremony, which included the reading of the Declaration of Animal Rights, singer/songwriter Vanessa Dawson debuted “Be Their Voice,” which is the song used in the video. Throughout the afternoon, other musicians and speakers took to the stage, and food vendors served plant-based fare to participants and the hundreds of onlookers in Union Square.
Vanessa Dawson debuts “Be Their Voice” at NARD (photo: Bernard Jones, Jr.)
On a trip to Spain in 2010, Aylam Orian, an actor and filmmaker from Los Angeles, stumbled upon a public spectacle that would change his life forever — a ceremony in which dozens of animal rights activists displayed the bodies of dead animals to help observers make the connection between the animals they were seeing and the food on their plates. It was an event so provocative and impactful that it inspired Mr. Orian to replicate it in the United States.
Igualdad Animal (Animal Equality) stages animal rights rally in Spain
Animal rights rally in Spain
Five years later, Mr. Orian is, with the help of dozens of volunteers, producing the fifth National Animal Rights Day (NARD), with rallies in eight cities in the U.S. and Canada that are expected to attract over 1,000 participants.
2014 National Animal Rights Day in Los Angeles
The use of animals’ bodies has its critics, but Mr. Orian asserts that the tactic helps observers connect the dots: “Most people never see farm animals in their lives; they only see their body parts on their plates. When we show them what these animals look like in the flesh, cradled in our arms like you would cradle a baby or a beloved pet, they feel something. Many stop to ask questions, and that gives us a chance to inspire them to change their lifestyle.”
National Animal Rights Day ceremony observers (photo: John Hays)
National Animal Rights Day Founder Aylam Orian in 2013 (photo: Sarah Jane Hardt]
2015 National Animal Rights Day in Toronto, Canada (photo: Joanne McArthur)
When people criticize the ceremony, Mr. Orian explains that the deceased animals, all of whom were donated, are treated with exceptional respect: “Instead of being ground up in a rendering plant or thrown into the garbage, we clean them, treat them with dignity and, after the ceremony, cremate them and spread their ashes. It’s the only tenderness most of these animals will ever receive.”
Animal rights activists pay their respects at a National Animal Rights Day ceremony
2015 National Animal Rights Day in Los Angeles (photo: Cameron Wapner)
Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane UnChained spoke to Mr. Orian to talk about National Animal Rights Day, the controversial use of deceased animals and the impact of the rallies on the public.
The National Animal Rights Day ceremonies are produced by Mr. Orian’s newly-incorporated charity, Our Planet, Theirs Too, and are taking place on May 30th in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado Springs, Seattle, Toronto and Ottowa and on June 7th in New York and Northampton (MA).
2015 National Animal Rights Day Toronto, Canada (photo: Joanne McArthur)
National Animal Rights Day 2015 (photo: John Hays)